Jocelyn Naylor holds farming in high esteem and has made it her goal to engage young children about the importance of agriculture, not only in this community but across the globe.
As the new Miss Spivey’s Corner, Naylor’s primary initiative is P.L.A.N.T. (Promoting Livestock and Agricultural Needs of Today). That initiative includes Crop in a Cup, in which she travels to elementary school across Sampson and beyond, explaining the importance of North Carolina agriculture while planting seeds with the children.
“A lot of elementary school students know about farms and eat three meals a day, but they don’t associate the two things as being connected,” Naylor remarked. “It’s amazing to go into a classroom and make that connection for them — that the farms they see traveling down the road with their parents are the ones that provide the food on their dinner table or their lunch tray.”
Naylor has started a N.C. Farming Families social media campaign, in which she highlights local farmers and farming families in Sampson and Harnett counties, another way to reach a younger audience. She has also co-authored a children’s book with her sister, entitled “Baby Bumble Finds His Place on the Farm,” which covers the daily function of a farm and how food is cultivated and raised and ultimately how the process leads to food on plates.
“It targets elementary school students again, because I think the earlier you make that connection, the more successful they are and the healthier their eating choices are down the road,” Naylor said.
Naylor and Miss Spivey’s Corner Outstanding Teen Tyler Albright were crowned in February and this week were recognized at the Sampson Board of Commissioners’ regular monthly meeting. Albright was unable to attend. The two will leave June 20 to compete in the Miss North Carolina and Miss North Carolina Outstanding Teen pageants, where they will represent Sampson County.
“I am so thrilled,” Naylor said of having the opportunity to compete for Miss North Carolina.
Miss Spivey’s Corner pageant volunteer Wayne Edwards said Naylor’s platform was a very relevant one in Sampson and he commended her for “working to promote the livestock and agriculture needs we have in this state.” He similarly lauded Albright, whose platform is T.Y.L.E.R (Teaching Young Leaders Everything about Reading). He said Albright has taken her message into schools, nursing homes and other locations. She also holds drives, one of which helped to amass 2,500 books to be distributed across the state.
Edwards asked that everyone stand behind the girls in their pursuit for the state crown. It takes a lot of time and dedication, he said, and they have given that. “I admire them for everything they are doing,” said Edwards.
Naylor reciprocated, saying it was good to have that support system, including Edwards’ cheerleading, intact.
“It’s truly humbling to know there are people out there who will invest their time in you and believe in you,” Naylor said.
Naylor said she was happy to say that Miss Spivey’s Corner can be from any of the state’s 100 counties, and was glad to be able to represent Sampson.
“I happen to live very close to Spivey’s Corner,” she said, “but you don’t have to live in Sampson County to be Miss Spivey’s Corner. I think it’s been so amazing to be a part of the Spivey’s Corner organization, because they have such strong roots in Spivey’s Corner but they’re so willing to reach out and help everyone across our state. It’s been amazing to be a part of that.”
Naylor graduated with a BS in Agricultural Business Management and uses phrases like “No farmers, no food” and “Thank a farmer three times a day” to drive her point home. She helps children plant seeds as part of Crop in a Cup. Her children’s book and social media outreach is another way to deliver the message.
“It’s amazing to see the love she has for agriculture,” Edwards remarked.
If she is crowned Miss North Carolina, Naylor said that goal of spreading the importance — and her love — of farming will continue. If crowned Miss NC, she will work toward another of her initiatives called “Labeling Local,” in which she plans to work with supermarkets and grocery stores to “more boldly label our food that has been locally grown.” Naylor said she hopes that will help people “make better decisions about which foods they are eating and steer them to eat locally-grown and raised products.”
In addition to working with young children, she also wants to impart to local high school students the job opportunities available in North Carolina as farming becomes more and more technology-driven.
“Farming is moving in such a different direction and there are so many job opportunities that they might not be aware of,” said Naylor, “and I want to make them aware of those.”
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.